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Town Expected to Dismiss Renourishment Bid Protest

Posted on May 21, 2024

On Monday the Fort Myers Beach Town Council dismissed a bid protest from Callan Marine for the beach’s big renourishment project. The Council then awarded the contract to Ahtna Marine with the project now expected to begin next month.

The dredging renourishment project is estimated to cost around $22 million. Ahtna’s bid was $21.7 million. Callan’s bid came in way over budget at $37.2 million. Callan Marine President John Sullivan made his case Monday. He told the Town Council that Ahtna could not safely do the job and because of its smaller equipment Ahtna would take nearly a year to complete the project, not the 195 days in the bid. Sullivan said his company would complete the project in 90 days.

Sullivan also asked the Town Council to go back out and ask for the additional $15 million it would take to hire his company. He said the money could be found by asking FEMA, the sate and Lee County. Having dealt with FEMA for the past 19 months Mayor Dan Allers was worried that having to go back for FEMA money would delay the project.

The town’s engineering consultant Mike Poff vouched for Ahtna and doubted Sullivan’s claims that the additional $15 million would be easy to find.

Town Attorney Becky Voss advised the Town Council that they were bound by the bid documents and by what the town’s experts tell them. In other words, despite what Sullivan was claiming, Ahtna met the requirements in the RFP the town put out. Voss said this is a contractual issue not covered by insurance. “I have no earthly idea how we would defend this. The exposure to the town would be very significant.”

In documents included in the agenda packaet Poff said that Ahtna has successfully completed several dredging projects in Southwest Florida “on time and on budget.” Poff reported that there were no safety issues or environmental hazards with projects completed for Marco Island, Collier County and Lee County. “They were all highly satisfied with Ahtna’s quality of work, professionalism, and client services.”

Poff also said that the beach is “severely eroded” and the “sooner we get the sand on the beach the better.” Town staff reported that in order for the project to be completed by November 30th “to protect the community from further damage from future storms” a notice to proceed must be issued no later than Monday June 3rd. “Any delay due to this protest jeopardizes project completion.”

A conference call town staff had with Callan on May 13th did not resolve the issue which brought it to the Town Council Monday. The Town Council voted 4-0 to deny the bid protest and 4-0 to approve the contract with Ahtna (Council member Karen Woodson was absent).

The good news is that Sullivan said he would not pursue the matter any further. “If you approve the contract with Ahtna, we’re gone, we’re not going to sue you. I do believe you’re making a mistake, but we’re gone.”


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